Theodore boone kid lawye.., p.6
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       Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer, p.6

         Part #1 of Theodore Boone series by John Grisham
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  APRILNPARIS: No. He said he would in a few days. For now, I’m living with my mother and her lawyer thinks I’ll stay here.

  TBOONEESQ: Probably so. Will you be at school tomorrow?

  APRILNPARIS: Yep, and I haven’t touched my homework in a week.

  TBOONEESQ: I’ll see you tomorrow.

  APRILNPARIS: Thanks, Theo.

  An hour later he was still awake, his thoughts switching back and forth, from April to the Duffy murder trial.

  Chapter 8

  Julio was waiting. Theo slid to a stop at the bike rack near the flagpole in front of the school and said, “Hola, Julio. Buenós días.”

  “Hola, Theo.”

  Theo wrapped the chain around the front tire and clicked the lock. The chain still frustrated him. Up until a year earlier, bikes were safe in Strattenburg. No one bothered with a chain. Then bikes began disappearing, still were, and parents began insisting on the extra security.

  “Thanks for your help last night,” Julio said. His English was good, but still heavily accented. The fact that he had approached Theo at school and initiated a conversation was a big step forward. Or so Theo thought.

  “No problem. Anytime.”

  Julio glanced around. A crowd from the buses was moving through the front door. “You know the law, right, Theo?”

  “Both my parents are lawyers.”

  “Police, courts, all that?”

  Theo shrugged. He never denied that he possessed a sizable knowledge of the law. “I understand a lot of it,” he said. “What’s up?”

  “This big trial, is it Mr. Duffy?”

  “Yes, he’s on trial for murder. And it is a big trial.”

  “Can we talk about it?”

  “Sure,” Theo said. “May I ask why?”

  “Maybe I know something.”

  Theo studied his eyes. Julio looked away, as if he’d done something wrong. An assistant principal yelled at some students to stop mingling and get inside. Theo and Julio headed for the door.

  “I’ll find you during lunch,” Theo said.

  “Good. Thanks.”

  “No problem.”

  As if Theo didn’t have enough of the Duffy trial on his mind, now he had even more. A lot more. What could a homeless twelve-year-old from El Salvador possibly know about the murder of Myra Duffy?

  Nothing, Theo decided as he walked to homeroom. He said good morning to Mr. Mount as he unpacked his backpack. He was not happy. The trial, the biggest trial in the history of Strattenburg, would start again in half an hour, and he would not be there. There is no justice, he decided.

  During the morning recess, Theo sneaked away to the library and hid in a study carrel. He pulled out his laptop and went to work.

  The court reporter assigned to the Duffy trial was a Ms. Finney. She was the best in town, according to what Theo had heard around the courthouse. As in every trial, Ms. Finney sat at the foot of the bench, below the judge and next to the witness chair. It was the best seat in the house, and rightfully so. Her job was to record every word spoken by the judge, the lawyers, the witnesses, and, finally, the jury. Using her stenograph machine, Ms. Finney could easily take down 250 words a minute.

  In the old days, according to Mrs. Boone, the court reporters used shorthand, a method of recording that included symbols and codes and abbreviations and pretty much anything else they needed to keep up with the dialogue. After the trial, the court reporter would translate the shorthand to a typed, neat transcript of what was said during the trial. This would take days, even weeks, sometimes months, and was hard work.

  But now, thanks to technology, the recording was far easier. And, better still, it produced an instant record of the trial. There were at least four desktop computers in the courtroom—one on the bench for Judge Gantry, one on the defense table, one for the prosecutor, and one for the court clerk. As Ms. Finney captured every word, the text was translated, formatted, and zipped into the system so that the four computers ran the proceedings in real time.

  Often, in a trial, there is a dispute over what a witness said or did not say. Years earlier, the judge would be forced to call time-out while the poor court reporter scurried through her notepads, found her shorthand scribblings, and recounted what she’d written. Now, though, the record was instant and far more reliable.

  Ms. Finney shared an office on the third floor with several other court reporters. Their software system was called Veritas. Theo had hacked into it before when he’d been curious about something that happened in court.

  It was not a secure system because the information was available in open court. Anyone could walk into the courtroom and watch the trial. Anyone, of course, who was not confined by the rigors of middle school. Even though Theo couldn’t be there in person, he certainly planned to know what was happening.

  He hadn’t missed much. The first witness of the second day was a security chief who worked the front gate at Waverly Creek. There were only two gates—the front and the south. Both had gatehouses that were staffed by at least one armed and uniformed guard around the clock. Both had multiple surveillance cameras. Using video records, the security chief testified that Mr. Duffy, or at least Mr. Duffy’s car, had left through the front gate at 6:48 a.m. on the day of the murder, and had returned at 10:22 a.m.

  The records proved that Mr. Duffy’s car was at home when his wife was murdered. This meant nothing since it had already been admitted. He went to work, came home, parked his car, got in his golf cart, and drove away, leaving his wife behind, still alive.

  Big deal, thought Theo. He checked the time. Only five minutes left in recess.

  The prosecution was going through a tedious summary of describing each vehicle that had entered Waverly Creek that morning. There was a plumbing truck and crew that went to one home. A flooring crew to another. And so on. It appeared, at least to Theo, that the prosecution was trying to account for every nonresident who might have gone past the gates.

  And to prove what? Maybe Jack Hogan would try to prove that there were no unauthorized vehicles, or people, in Waverly Creek at the time of the murder. This seemed a stretch to Theo.

  He realized he was missing a dull part of the trial. He turned off his laptop and hustled to class.

  Julio was not in the cafeteria. Theo ate in a hurry, then went to look for him. His curiosity was nagging him, and the longer he sat through class, the more he wanted to know what Julio might know. He checked with some seventh graders. No one knew where Julio was.

  Theo returned to the library, to the same study carrel, and quickly hacked into Ms. Finney’s software. The trial was in recess for lunch, as Theo expected. Otherwise, he would have found some excuse to dart downtown during the noon break and check out the action.

  As expected, the prosecution had attempted to prove that there were no unauthorized vehicles in Waverly Creek at the time of the murder. Therefore, to follow Jack Hogan’s theory, the killer was not someone who had entered without permission. Any stranger would have been noticed by the elaborate security. The killer, then, had to be someone who could easily come and go without drawing attention from the guards. Someone who lived there. Someone like Pete Duffy.

  This effort by the prosecution drew heavy fire from Mr. Clifford Nance, who had kept quiet during the early hours of the trial. During a heated and sometimes harsh cross-examination, Mr. Nance forced the security chief to admit that there were (1) 154 single-family homes and 80 condos in Waverly Creek; and (2) at least 477 vehicles owned by the residents there; and (3) an asphalt service road that was not watched by either guards or cameras; and (4) at least two gravel roads that provided access to the area and were not on the map.

  Mr. Nance drove home the point that Waverly Creek covered some twelve hundred acres, with lots of streams, creeks, ponds, woods, coves, streets, alleys, homes, condos, three golf courses, and, well, it was “impossible” to secure all that.

  The chief reluctantly agreed.

  Later, he admitted that it was impos
sible to know who was present inside the gated community at the time of the murder and who wasn’t.

  Theo thought the cross-examination was brilliant, and very effective. It made him sadder that he had missed it.

  “What are you doing?” The voice startled Theo and snapped him back into the world of middle school. It was April. She knew his hiding places.

  “Checking on the trial.”

  “I hope I never see another trial.”

  He closed his laptop, and they moved to a small table near the periodicals. She wanted to talk, and in a near whisper she replayed the nightmare of testifying in court with a bunch of frowning adults hanging on every word.

  Final bell was at three thirty, and twenty minutes later Theo was in the courtroom. It wasn’t as crowded as it had been the day before. Luckily, he found a spot next to Jenny, his true love from the Family Court clerk’s office. But she patted his knee, as if he were just a cute little puppy. This always irritated Theo.

  The jury was out. Judge Gantry was gone. The trial was in some sort of recess. “What’s going on?” he whispered.

  “The lawyers are haggling in chambers,” she whispered back, frowning with frustration.

  “You still think he’s guilty?” His voice was even lower.

  “Yes. You?”

  “Don’t know.”

  They whispered back and forth for a few minutes, then there was a flurry of movement up front. Judge Gantry was back. The lawyers were filing into the room. A bailiff went to fetch the jury.

  The next witness for the prosecution was a banker. Jack Hogan started with a series of questions about loans made to Pete Duffy. There was a lot of talk about finances and collateral and defaults, and much of it was over Theo’s head. As he watched the jurors, he realized that most of them were not following too well either. The testimony quickly became dull and boring. If it was intended to prove that Pete Duffy was broke and needed cash, then Theo thought the banker was a lousy witness.

  It was a bad day for the prosecution, at least in his opinion. He glanced around the courtroom and realized that the sinister Omar Cheepe was not present. Theo figured he was close by, somewhere, watching or listening.

  The banker was in the process of putting everyone to sleep. Theo glanced up and back at the balcony, which was empty except for one person. Julio was there. He was at the far end of the front row, bent at the waist, his head barely visible over the railing, as if he knew he wasn’t supposed to be there.

  Theo turned back around, looked at the witness and the jury, and asked himself why Julio would possibly be watching the trial.

  He knew something.

  A few minutes later, Theo glanced up again. Julio was not alone anymore. Omar Cheepe was sitting directly behind him, and Julio did not know he was being observed.

  Chapter 9

  Judge Gantry adjourned court shortly after 5:00 p.m and called the lawyers into his chambers for what promised to be a tense meeting. Theo hurried outside and looked for Julio, but there was no sign, no trail. A few minutes later, Theo parked behind the family’s law office and went inside. Elsa was tidying up her desk, getting ready to leave.

  “A good day at school, Theo?” she asked with her customary warm smile as she hugged him.


  “And why not?”

  “I’m bored with school.”

  “Of course. And school is especially boring when there’s a trial under way, right?”


  “Your mother has a client. Your father was putting the last I heard.”

  “He needs the practice,” Theo said. “Bye.”

  “Bye, dear. See you tomorrow.” Elsa left through the front door and Theo locked it behind her.

  Woods Boone kept a putter and a few balls near his desk. He practiced on an old Oriental rug that had very little in common with a real putting green. Several times a day, when he “needed to stretch his back” he would tap a few balls. When he missed, which was more often than not, the balls rolled off the rug and across the wooden floor and made a distinct sound, one that was not quite as loud as a bowling ball roaring down the alley, but a racket nonetheless. The entire firm downstairs knew that the errant golfer upstairs had missed once again.

  “Well, hello, Theo,” Mr. Boone said. He was at his desk, not putting, sleeves rolled up, pipe stuck between his right rear molars, a mountain of paperwork in front of him.

  “Hey, Dad.”

  “A good day at school?”

  “Great.” If Theo complained, which he occasionally couldn’t help, then he would get the standard lecture about the importance of education and so on. “I stopped by the courthouse after school.”

  “I figured. Anything exciting?”

  They talked about the trial for a few minutes. His father seemed to have almost no interest in it, and this baffled Theo. How could any lawyer not be consumed with such an important event in the town’s judicial system?

  The phone rang and Mr. Boone excused himself. Theo went downstairs to check on the rest of the firm. Vince the paralegal was working with his door shut. Dorothy the real estate assistant was gone. Theo heard serious voices coming from his mother’s office, so he eased along the hall. He often heard people crying in there, women who were overwhelmed with marital problems and were in desperate need of his mother’s help.

  Theo couldn’t help but smile at his mother’s importance. He had no desire to be her type of lawyer, but he was very proud of her anyway.

  He went to his office, spent a few minutes chatting with Judge, and started his homework. A few minutes dragged by and it was getting dark. Judge growled at a sound from the outside, then someone knocked on his door. Theo, startled, jumped to his feet and looked outside. It was Julio. Theo opened the door.

  “Can we talk out here?” Julio said, nodding away from the building.

  “Sure,” Theo said, and pulled the door closed behind him. “What’s up?”

  “I don’t know.”

  “I saw you in court a while ago. Why were you in court?”

  Julio took a few steps away from the office, as if someone in there might hear him. He glanced around, very nervously. “I need to trust someone, Theo,” he said. “Someone who knows the law.”

  “You can trust me,” Theo said, quite anxious to hear the rest of a story he’d been thinking about the entire day.

  “But if I tell you something, you cannot tell anyone else, okay?”

  “Okay, but why would you tell me something if I can’t tell anyone? I don’t understand.”

  “I need advice. Someone needs to know.”

  “Know what?”

  Julio stuck both hands in the pockets of his jeans. His shoulders dropped. He looked frightened. Theo thought about him, his mother, and his little brother and sister. Living in a shelter, far from their real home, abandoned by their father. They were probably afraid of almost everything.

  “You can trust me, Julio,” Theo said.

  “Okay.” Julio looked at his feet, unable to make eye contact. “I have a cousin, from El Salvador. He’s here, in Strattenburg. He’s older, maybe eighteen or nineteen. Been here a year or so. He works out at the golf course. He cuts grass, puts water in the coolers, all that sort of stuff. Do you play golf?”


  “Then you see the guys who take care of the course.”

  “Yes.” Theo played with his father every Saturday morning on the Strattenburg municipal course. There were always a few workers—mostly Hispanic, now that he thought of it—around the fairways and greens taking care of things.

  “Which golf course?” Theo asked. There were at least three in the area.

  “Out there, where the lady was murdered.”

  “Waverly Creek?”


  Theo felt something tighten in his upper chest, a knot of some sort, one that had just formed. “Go on,” he said, though something told him he should drop this conversation at once, run back into the office, and loc
k the door.

  “You see, he was working on the day of the murder. He was eating lunch. His lunch break starts at eleven thirty and goes to twelve. He is very homesick, and on most days he sneaks away from the others and eats alone. He carries a family photo of his mother, father, and four little brothers, and while he eats he looks at the photo. It makes him very sad, but it also reminds him of why he’s here. He sends them money every month. They are very poor.”

  “Where does he eat lunch?” Theo asked, but he already had a clue.

  “I don’t know much about golf, just what he has told me. Fairway and dogleg, you know these words?”


  “Well, my cousin was sitting under some trees in a dogleg, sort of hiding because his lunch break is the only time he can be alone, and he saw this man in a golf cart going real fast down the path along the fairway. The man had a set of golf clubs on the back of the cart, but he was not hitting balls. He was in a hurry. Suddenly, he veered to his left and parked the cart near the patio of the house where the lady was murdered.”

  Theo, who was holding his breath, said, “Oh my gosh.”

  Julio looked at him.

  “Keep going,” Theo said.

  “And so this man jumped from the cart, walked to the back door, quickly took off his golf shoes, opened the door, and went inside. The door was not locked and the man was moving fast, like he knew exactly what he was doing. My cousin didn’t think much about this because the people who live out there play golf all the time. But it did seem a little odd that the man took off his shoes on the patio. And he did something else that my cousin thought was strange.”


  “The man was wearing a white glove on his left hand. This is normal, no?”

  “Yes. Most right-handed golfers wear a glove on the left hand.”

  “That’s what my cousin said. So the man was playing golf somewhere and decided to stop by this house—”

  “And he forgot to take off his glove,” Theo said.

  “Maybe, but here’s the strange part. After the man took off his shoes and put them by the door, he reached into his pocket, pulled out another glove, and quickly put it on his right hand. Two white gloves.”

  The knot in Theo’s upper chest now felt like a football.

  “Why would the man wear two gloves before he opened the door to the house?” Julio asked.

  But Theo didn’t answer. His mind was locked on to the image of Mr. Pete Duffy sitting in the courtroom, surrounded by lawyers, with a smug look on his face as if he’d committed the perfect crime and couldn’t be caught.

  “Which fairway?” Theo asked.

  “Number six, on the Creek Course, whatever that means.” The Duffy home, Theo said to himself.

  “How far away was your cousin?”

  “I don’t know. I haven’t been out there. But he was well hidden. When the man came out of the house, he looked around, very suspiciously, to make sure no one saw him. He had no clue my cousin was watching.”

  “How long was the man in the house?”

  “Not long at all. Again, my cousin was not that suspicious. He finished his lunch and was saying prayers for his family when the man came out of the same door. He walked around the patio for a minute, took his time, looked up and down
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